“Be careful what you agree to in haste.”
Obadiah, just now
Alesha (my wife) wanted us to run a 5k together. I agreed. Of course, I agreed. Agreeing with your wife’s ideas is one of the best ways to stay happy. When I agreed, I forgot about a few things, things like running almost every day for six weeks and how fun it isn’t. Too bad. The registrations were done, the money was spent, and I was in whether I wanted to be or not.
Alesha and I have run lots of 5ks together so this isn’t a first. What makes this time unique is that it is the first time since we’ve had COVID.
There are those friends and family that you talk to that had COVID and didn’t know it. “I had a runny nose for one day.” “I coughed twice and that was it.” etc. etc. This was not me. I have had the pleasure of being a “long hauler”. I isolated for two weeks, went back to work, and was sent immediately back into isolation because my symptoms returned (big time) during lunch. I had symptoms (including a fever) for almost 6 months.
I’ll spare you any more details and get to the bottom line: I’m currently in the worst physical condition of my life. I essentially quit exercising and have packed on a ton of weight. Most of my clothes still fit because cotton stretches, but I definitely have some shirts and pants I haven’t seen since the spring of ‘19.
Running this 5k has felt like completely starting over. Here’s what I’m learning:
Laziness is addictive.
Before COVID, a nearly daily workout had become such a part of my life that I didn’t even think about doing it. It was like brushing my teeth. You just do it. Now, it’s off my radar and that’s kinda nice. You can use that extra time to work on that Netflix queue and eat Cheetos. It’s the worst kind of wonderful and its hard to give up.
Me against me.
Did you know there are two people living in your brain? I’m sure you’ve listened to that internal dialogue only to realize that there are really three of you: a wimp, a coach, and an observer. The coach is yelling at the wimp. The wimp has zero cares to give. The observer writes the web article. The wimp is shockingly loud and whiny and, when left alone, will become the dominant force in every area of your life. The observer at some point has to resurrect the coach so that he can force the wimp to start running again. The wimp must decrease so that the coach can increase so the observer can get off the couch. I don’t know if any of that makes sense but I know this for sure: I’m naturally gifted at whining.
Forget the past.
I’ve run 5ks, 10ks, 15ks, half-marathons but none of the medals sitting in the drawer matter today. They are past achievements and t-shirts that don’t fit anymore. I have to focus on where I am not where I’ve been.
An honest look.
The previous paragraphs have been pretty honest but they aren’t where the honesty started. It all started one morning when I woke up and forced myself to stand on the scale. I had to assess the damage and be real with myself about my current condition. It’s a tough moment, but completely necessary. I can’t change if I don’t get real about where I am.
Slack. I need some.
The coach-in-my-head is an interesting character. In an effort to motivate me, he gets cruel and harsh. He screams, calls me a loser, and reminds me of those past medals and achievements. At first, this can seem like a great way to get moving but my experience has taught me that I can’t live under that kind of harsh self-talk. Eventually I get discouraged and just quit which means the coach isn’t doing his job. The observer (I think that’s the “real” me) has to step in, calm the coach down and have mercy on me.I have to remind myself that I had a significant health challenge and that just being able to run at all is a victory. Yesterday I ran for 20 minutes without a break. I have to be willing to celebrate that achievement instead of comparing it to previous runs. I have to cut myself some slack… just not enough to get back on the couch without a run.
The Honorable Mention (number 6)
God has been a constant companion through all of this. He is often the kind voice that helps me recognize that the inner coach is getting too zealous or that the wimp is slowly starting to run the show. I’m so grateful for His kind, ever present love and gentle pushes in the right direction. Jesus really doesn’t get enough credit for how awesome He really is.
Enough contemplation. The race is Sunday and I have a few more runs to get in before then.